Welcome to Screen Gems, our weekend dive into queer and queer-adjacent titles of the past that deserve a watch or a rewatch.
The Stolen Scenes: Beautiful Thing
This 1996 romantic comedy about two British high school boys in love helped pave the way for countless other queer films, and foreshadowed the success of Love, Simon. Beautiful Thing follows the story of Jamie (Glen Berry), a teen hopelessly infatuated with his classmate Ste (Scott Neal). Both hail from rough family situations: Jamie’s mother Sandra (Linda Henry) goes through one eccentric man after the next, while Ste’s father struggles with drugs, and beats his son. One night, when Ste gets a particularly nasty beating, Sandra takes in Ste to sleep over. Sparks immediately fly between he and Jamie as the two boys come to discover their budding sexuality.
Pretty straightforward, right? Jamie and Ste are the least interesting elements of Beautiful Thing. While Berry and Neal both go easy on the eyes and give fine performances, they come off rather bland when compared to the post-hippie Sandra, and, in particular, Leah (Tameka Empson) a sassy neighbor with a Mama Cass obsession that befriends the boys. Both Leah and Sandra steal the movie right out from under their handsome co-stars: the two ladies have much more developed and complicated personalities, and are a lot more fun to watch.
Sweet, tender and very funny, Beautiful Thing feels like an innocent, welcome breath of fresh air in a time of political crisis. Watch it, and dream of a more beautiful tomorrow for queer kids everywhere.
Streams on Amazon, VUDU & YouTube.